The Moonwalks as seen at Honeysuckle Creek

and other unique footage


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Here’s some background info on the video files on the “Moonwalks as seen at Honeysuckle Creek” DVD.
Written 2008.

Apollo 11

For the Apollo 11 Moonwalk, Ed von Renouard recorded around 12 minutes of Super 8 footage at Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station. Some of it was in real time, some was from a replay of the telemetry tapes shortly afterwards, and some was of a videotape shipped from Sydney Video showing the picture received at Parkes.

Ed’s footage of the TV monitors is remarkably clear considering that he was using Super 8 film, a handheld camera, and the area was well lit. (You can see reflections of the ceiling lights on the right hand of the TV screen. On the left, you can often make out a reflection of the equipment behind Ed – it looks like an oscilloscope display and some control knobs.)

The Super 8 camera filmed at 18 frames per second – therefore there is some strobing of the TV monitors. It isn’t too bad when filming the scan-converted TV picture which was directly in front of Ed’s chair (that monitor was showing the US TV standard of 30 frames per second). On the few occasions Ed pans across the Slow Scan monitor to his upper left, the flickering is much worse because the TV from the Moon is coming in at 10 frames per second.

Once we had Ed’s film transferred to digital format, David Woods reduced the flicker on the shots of the TV monitors by blending adjacent frames. This helps and does not lose information since the original TV was only 10fps anyway. (The digital transfer, done by Tim Emblem-English at BBC Television Studios in London, was in PAL TV standard. Though PAL only has a framerate of 25fps, it has better vertical resolution than NTSC – 625 lines for PAL, 525 lines for NTSC.)

PDF notes on the Super 8

Download this PDF file with an outline of the scenes from the Super 8 movie. (1.3MB)


Comparisons of the Honeysuckle Creek Super 8 and the NASA Archive footage

The NASA Archive footage (which is usually what everyone sees – this was written in 2008, prior to the restoration) is a telecine recording – that is, it is a 16mm film recording from a telecine machine, which is a film camera mounted in a box and pointing at a TV screen. This is how most TV was archived in the 1960s. Videotape machines were coming into more widespread use, but were not considered as reliable.

Around the time of the First Step, the NASA archive film has large white spots which appear randomly on the picture. I had always assumed that this was noise in the TV picture coming from the Moon. However, there is no sign of these large spots on the Honeysuckle film. Neither are they visible on the kinescope recording made by the Australian Broadcasting Commission of the Australian version of the broadcast. Nor are they visible on the (relatively low quality) videotape I have seen from the US networks.

I can only assume that they were introduced in the copying of the film master.

There are other recordings of the Moonwalk – but (with the exception of the Australian broadcast, part of which is on the DVD) these were all relays of the TV released at Houston, and therefore aren’t any better.

After the EVA, Ed pans across the servo area, starting with the TV monitor showing the picture from the Boresight camera – a camera mounted on Honeysuckle’s 85 foot antenna so that the servo operator could see exactly where the antenna was pointing.

Boresight camera

This simulated picture confirms that the footage was taken on the day of the Apollo 11 Moonwalk. (The boresight TV picture is rotated as the antenna turns on its axes to follow the Moon – that’s why the orientation doesn’t match the simulated view.)


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